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by Robert Preidt

Turkey Fryer Mishaps Can Cause Serious Burns

Expert offers tips on using these devices safely
THURSDAY, Nov. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Celebration can quickly turn to tragedy if popular turkey fryers are misused on Thanksgiving Day, experts say.
Over the last decade, more than 141 serious fires and hot-oil burns have occurred while people were using turkey fryers, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
"I have actually cared for a patient who tried to deep fry the turkey indoors, which absolutely should not be done in any circumstances," Dr. Arthur Sanford, a burn surgeon at Loyola University Health System, said in a university news release.
"And I cannot stress enough that the turkey must be moisture-free. A frozen turkey in hot oil is a recipe for tragedy," he added.
Sanford offered a number of other safety tips for people using turkey fryers:
Purchase a newer fryer that has a sealed lid to prevent oil spills. Place the fryer in an open area away from all walls, fences or other structures. Never use the fryer in, on or under a garage, carport, porch, deck or any other structure that can catch fire. Keep the fryer in full view while the burner is on and keep children and pets away from the cooking area. Do not cook in short sleeves, shorts or bare feet. Cover all bare skin when dunking or removing the turkey. Wear goggles or glasses to protect your eyes. Make sure the turkey is fully thawed and dry when placed in the hot oil. Water can cause the oil to spill over, triggering a fire or explosion. Be careful with marinades. Don't overfill the fryer with oil. Slowly raise and lower the turkey to reduce hot-oil splatters and to prevent burns. Turn off the fryer immediately if the oil starts to overheat. If the turkey fryer catches fire, do not use water to try to douse it. Have a fire extinguisher appropriate for oil fires with you when using a turkey fryer and familiarize yourself with the extinguisher beforehand. If you or someone else suffers a burn, get immediate medical aid. Don't drink alcohol before or while using a turkey fryer. Wait until dinner to have a drink.
More information
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers tips for the safe preparation of your holiday meal (http://www.cdc.gov/features/turkeytime/ ).
SOURCE: Loyola University, news release, Nov. 18, 2014
by Robert Preidt

Don't Let Chronic Heartburn Spoil Your Thanksgiving Feast

Expert offers tips on reducing the post-meal discomfort
THURSDAY, Nov. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Planning on seconds at Thanksgiving Day dinner this year? If you suffer from chronic heartburn -- clinically known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) -- a few steps may help minimize the aftereffects.
Dr. Jordan Josephson, an ear, nose and throat specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, offers up these tips to help manage GERD on Thanksgiving:
Pace yourself. Rather than have one big meal, have at least two small meals throughout the day. It's also a good idea to have a healthy snack of veggies before the main course is served. Don't eat just before bedtime. Bigger meals should be eaten at least three hours before going to sleep to avoid an acid reflux flare-up. Opt for water. Rather than soda or wine, drink water to avoid aggravating your symptoms. Drinking plenty of water will also aid in digestion and help you stay hydrated. Limit certain foods. Do not overindulge on carbohydrates like bread, pasta and rice. It's also a good idea to avoid spicy or tomato-based foods as well as foods high in fat. Avoid caffeine. To prevent a flare-up of GERD symptoms, pass on the coffee or other caffeinated beverages. Don't smoke. Smoking irritates the lining of the stomach, esophagus, nose and sinuses. Leave the belt at home. Tight or restrictive clothing or accessories can increase heartburn-related discomfort. Walk. Taking a stroll before or after Thanksgiving dinner can aid in digestion and boost metabolism. Gargle with salt water. At the end of the day, gargling with salt water can help remove acid and soothe stomach irritation.
More information
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information on GERD ( http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/health-topics/digestive-diseases/ger-and-gerd-in-adults/Pages/overview.aspx ).
SOURCE: Lenox Hill Hospital, news release, November 14, 2014.
by Robert Preidt

Expert Shares Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Tips

Loved ones need to understand risks some foods pose for those with celiac disease
THURSDAY, Nov. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Thanksgiving meals can pose a challenge for people who have to eat a gluten-free diet, an expert says.
Many traditional Thanksgiving dishes -- such as turkey, corn, sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce -- are gluten-free, but "when it comes to pies, stuffing, gravy, etc., gluten-free substitutes may need to be considered," Dr. Anca Safta, director of the Gluten and Allergic Digestive Disorders program at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in North Carolina, said in a center news release.
"For those with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), it's never a good time to cheat. But removing gluten from a Thanksgiving menu doesn't have to take the joy out of the holiday," she said.
People with celiac disease or NCGS need to educate their family and friends about their condition. Most people don't mind going gluten-free for one meal if they understand the harm -- such as pain and intestinal damage -- that gluten can cause to people with celiac disease or NCGS, according to Safta.
Look for the gluten-free (GF) label on foods. In most cases, gluten-free alternatives to gluten-containing grains, condiments, sauces and dishes can be bought at a store or made at home.
Gluten-free doesn't mean taste-free. In fact, a gluten-free version of a dish may actually taste better than the original. Experiment beforehand to test and perfect gluten-free recipes, Safta suggested.
"What's a Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie and macaroni and cheese? Well, there's no need to find out," she said. "Make the pie crust with gluten-free graham cracker crumbs, and find gluten-free elbows. No one will have to give up his or her favorite dish, just certain ingredients."
More information
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about celiac disease (http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/celiac-disease.printerview.all.html ).
SOURCE: Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, news release, Nov. 20, 2014
by Robert Preidt

Want Kids to Eat Better? Get Them Cooking

Children involved in food prep classes may eat more fruits, veggies and fiber, study says
THURSDAY, Nov. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Getting kids involved in the kitchen, through cooking classes or at home, may make them more likely to choose healthy foods, according to a recent review.
Cooking programs and classes for children seem to positively influence children's food preferences and behaviors, according to the new research. And, although the review didn't look at long-term effects of such programs, the findings suggest that such programs might help children develop long-lasting healthy habits.
"It is important to expose children to healthy foods in a positive way," said Derek Hersch, the lead author of the study who also works with a cooking education program called Food Explorers at the Minnesota Heart Institute Foundation. "Creating habits and behaviors at this age is the most important part of it."
This research comes at a time when childhood obesity rates have been rising rapidly. More than one-third of adolescents in the United States were obese in 2012, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This trend has been caused, at least in part, by a significant decrease in the amount of meals that people consume at home since the 1980s, according to background information in the study. People are more likely to eat at restaurants, where meals are more calorie-dense and less nutritious, the study noted.
Sara Haas, a spokesperson with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, noted that time is a factor. "It has a lot to do with eating more convenience foods because parents are lacking time, and may not have learned to cook healthy meals," she said.
Cooking education programs, such as Food Explorers, teach children about new healthy foods and how to prepare them. They also stress the importance of eating five fruits and vegetables every day. A volunteer parent explains a new food to the group, and the kids make something based on the lesson, such as fruit skewers or spinach salad. Depending on the program, kids may be sent home with information about healthy foods to bring to their parents, the review explained.
"If you get them involved in cooking, they are 100 percent interested and want to do more -- it's amazing," said Haas, who is also a chef.
Hersch and his study team reviewed eight other studies that tested different types of cooking education programs. Children in these classes were between 5 and 12 years old, according to the review. Hersch's goal was to learn more about developing an efficient program to encourage healthy food choices that last a lifetime.
"We found that it is particularly important to expose kids to healthy foods on a number of occasions," Hersch said. "This makes them feel comfortable with the new foods, which helps them build healthy habits."
Because each study included in the review was designed somewhat differently, it was difficult for the researchers to make any strong conclusions. However, some of the trends the researchers saw included increased consumption of fruits, vegetables and dietary fiber, a greater willingness to try new foods and increased confidence in the ability to prepare foods.
Hersch and the study authors recently published their findings in the CDC's Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy.
Both Hersch and Haas emphasized the importance of getting parents involved in their children's eating habits. Parents who are unable to enroll their kids in a cooking class can achieve similar benefits by having their kids help them while they prepare meals at home, Hersch noted. Children are more comfortable at home, which makes them more receptive to new foods because they will make the connection to a positive experience, according to Hersch.
While reviewing this topic, Hersch found that there is a lack of research in this area. There has not been a long-term study to see if children who take these courses are more likely to choose fruits and vegetables as adults. There also haven't been studies to see if children who participate in cooking programs are less likely to become obese.
None of the current studies looked at whether or not the classes had an impact on the children's attitudes towards unhealthy foods, such as foods laden with fat and sugar, according to Hersch. He explained that these limitations likely result from the fact that cooking programs want to focus their limited resources on their children, rather than publishing their research.
"From personal experience, I just know that kids really enjoy it," Haas said. "You can take the most introverted kid and they just come alive when you get them involved in cooking."
More information
There are more tips on helping kids eat better at the Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition (http://www.eatright.org/kids/ ).
SOURCES: Derek Hersch, health promotions and grant specialist, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation, Minneapolis, Minn.; Sara Haas, R.D.N., L.D.N., spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; Nov. 2014, Preventing Chronic Disease: Public Health Research, Practice and Policy
by Robert Preidt

Don't Let High Altitude Ruin Your Holiday Trip

Stay hydrated and give yourself time to acclimate, expert advises
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- When you're planning your holiday get-away, don't forget to factor high altitude into your vacation sports -- such as skiing or hiking, a sports medicine specialist cautions.
Outdoor explorers may fail to take altitude into account when visiting high-altitude recreation areas, which puts them at risk of developing fatigue and other symptoms related to being high above sea level, according to Dr. Melissa Tabor, an assistant professor of sports medicine and osteopathic principles and practice at Nova Southeastern University College of Osteopathic Medicine in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
"No matter how great of an athlete you are, if you are coming from sea level or lower altitudes to a higher altitude area, you need to prepare," Tabor said in a news release provided by the American Osteopathic Association. Tabor recently gave a presentation on preparing for high-altitude activities at the Osteopathic Medical Conference in Seattle.
People under 50 more likely to get altitude sickness, Tabor said.
Folks should be on the lookout for signs of altitude sickness: nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, sleep disturbances and poor eating. Other more serious symptoms include confusion, inability to walk, shortness of breath and coughing blood. In extreme cases, altitude sickness can even cause death, according to Tabor.
Fortunately, treatment is often simple -- move to a lower altitude, she noted.
To lower your risk of developing altitude sickness, Tabor suggests these cautions:
Acclimate to higher altitude by spending days -- or weeks, if possible -- at a higher altitude before any strenuous activity. Plan ahead and get information about the location where you're traveling. You may be able to find websites created by mountain resorts and local governments with details about ascending and descending. Climb slowly and check guidelines from the Wilderness Medical Society. Listen to your body and don't climb any more if you feel lightheaded or have a headache. Descend within two to four hours if the symptoms don't go away. Stay hydrated and drink before you're thirsty. Consider renting a portable hyperbaric chamber to help you adjust to altitude. Talk to a doctor for advice and possible prescriptions for medications that may help you adjust to altitude.
More information
For details about preparing for traveling to high altitude, try the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/yellowbook/2014/chapter-2-the-pre-travel-consultation/altitude-illness ).
SOURCE: American Osteopathic Association, news release, Oct. 30, 2014
by Robert Preidt

Early Trial Promising for Ebola Vaccine

Injections appear safe, but one expert is betting on a different approach
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- An experimental Ebola vaccine appears to be safe and produces an immune system response that could protect people against the deadly virus, according to early clinical trial results reported by the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
The success of the phase I clinical trial for the vaccine paves the way for field-testing it in the Ebola-stricken West African nations of Liberia and Sierra Leone as early as January, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The genetically engineered vaccine caused no major side effects in 20 healthy adults who received a dose in September at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, Md., the researchers report in the Nov. 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
The vaccine also created an immune system response in humans very similar to that of monkeys who, once inoculated, survived lab tests that exposed them to potentially fatal doses of Ebola, Fauci said.
"All in all, one can say this is a successful vaccine, from the standpoint of phase I," Fauci said. "Now the critical question is, will it work?"
Ebola has killed more than 5,450 people during the West African epidemic, according to the World Health Organization. In response, international efforts to develop a preventive vaccine have accelerated.
The current vaccine, developed by the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and GlaxoSmithKline, is based on a virus called chimpanzee-derived adenovirus, which causes a common cold in chimps but has no effect on humans.
Researchers have spliced portions of Ebola's genetic material into the chimp virus, to trick the immune system into creating Ebola-attacking antibodies without exposing the body to the virus itself.
The clinical trial enrolled volunteers aged 18 to 50. Ten volunteers received a low-dose injection of the vaccine, while another 10 received the same vaccine at a higher dose.
Within a day of vaccination, two people who got the higher dose developed a fever, which was "short-lived and easily handled," Fauci said.
"There were no real red flags when it comes to safety," he said.
At two weeks and four weeks following vaccination, the researchers tested the volunteers' blood to determine if anti-Ebola antibodies were generated. All 20 volunteers developed such antibodies within four weeks of receiving the vaccine, but antibody levels were higher in those who received the higher-dose vaccine.
"The results of the vaccine trial are promising and show that this particular vaccine is able to induce protective levels of immunity," said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior associate with the Center for Health Security at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "The trial also begins to provide a basis for selecting the optimal dose needed to achieve protection against Ebola."
Two other phase I trials for the vaccine are ongoing in the United Kingdom and Mali, with results expected by year-end, the NIH said.
But based on the success of the Bethesda trial, researchers hope to begin delivering the experimental vaccine to people in Liberia and Sierra Leone within a couple of months, Fauci said.
Fauci could not say how many people would receive the vaccine in the field trials. "We don't have the exact number," he said. "In order to determine efficacy, you'll have to vaccinate thousands of people, not just hundreds of people."
The vaccine in question is one of two experimental Ebola vaccines that experts have said could be ready in time to combat the current epidemic.
The second vaccine, also genetically engineered, is based on a virus common to cattle and horses called vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). This is in the same family as the rabies virus but causes only flu-like symptoms in infected humans.
Produced by the Public Health Agency of Canada based on research by NewLink Genetics of Iowa -- the second vaccine is also being tested in phase I trials.
Thomas Geisbert, an Ebola expert and a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Texas Medical Branch, believes the VSV-based Ebola vaccine may be the way to go.
Although clinical trial results for the NIH/GlaxoSmithKline vaccine are "promising," other experimental Ebola vaccines based on chimp adenovirus have not provided protection against more aggressive strains of the virus, he said.
Geisbert believes the vaccine pursued by Canadian researchers could be more effective and produce longer-lasting protection.
"It remains to be seen if they are equally or nearly equally as safe," Geisbert said. "If it turns out that they are, then I think the VSV-based vaccines will be the front runners."
More information
For more on Ebola virus, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (http://www.cdc.gov/vhf/ebola/ ).
SOURCES: Anthony Fauci, M.D., director, U.S. National Institute of Health's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; Amesh Adalja, M.D., senior associate, Center for Health Security, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; Thomas Geisbert, Ph.D., professor, microbiology and immunology, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston; Nov. 26, 2014, New England Journal of Medicine
by Robert Preidt

EPA Issues Tougher Rules on Ozone Emissions

Health experts praised the new limits, but industry advocates said they aren't needed
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- New regulations to reduce emissions of the smog-causing pollutant ozone from power plants and factories were issued Wednesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Ozone has been linked to asthma, heart disease and premature death.
The new rules would lower the current limit for ozone pollution from 75 parts per billion to between 65 to 70 parts per billion, the EPA said.
"Bringing ozone pollution standards in line with the latest science will clean up our air, improve access to crucial air quality information and protect those most at risk," EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in an agency news release.
According to the New York Times, the latest ozone emission limits are still less of a reduction than the 60 parts per billion limit sought by environmental groups. However, the EPA proposal will also ask for public comment on a 60-parts-per-billion limit, which means the final regulation could be lower than what is being proposed, the Times reported.
Reductions in ozone emissions have been sought by public health groups for years.
"The EPA's proposal to strengthen the standard is a step forward in the fight to protect all Americans from the dangers of breathing ozone pollution, especially to protect our children, our older adults and those living with lung or heart disease," Harold Wimmer, president of the American Lung Association, said in a statement.
However, Wimmer believes the new rules don't go far enough. "We are concerned that EPA did not include 60 parts per billion in the range, though it was the clear recommendation of independent scientists as well as health and medical societies, including the American Lung Association," he said.
"The scientific record clearly shows that a standard of 60 parts per billion would provide the most public health protection," Wimmer added. "We will continue to push the agency to adopt standards based on the scientific evidence."
However, industry groups claim the new limits would harm the economy and provide little public health benefit.
"Air quality has improved dramatically over the past decades, and air quality will continue to improve under the existing standards," Howard Feldman, director of regulatory affairs for the American Petroleum Institute, which lobbies for the oil industry, told the Times.
"The current review of health studies has not identified compelling evidence for more stringent standards, and current standards are protective of public health," he said.
But two lung health experts agreed with the ALA that the new standards are long overdue.
"It is welcome news that air pollution will be lessened by this legislation," said Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "It is well known that asthma is linked to ozone. Even atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries] has been linked to air pollution in urban environments."
Dr. Marc Wilkenfeld is chief of the division of occupational and environmental medicine at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y. He agreed that, "a reduction in ozone levels is a critical factor in improving public health. The reduction will ultimately save lives."
The new ozone standards are the latest in a series of EPA moves to reduce air pollution. Next year, the agency is expected to finalize two new rules meant to reduce climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants, the Times reported.
More information
There's more on air pollution at the American Lung Association (http://www.stateoftheair.org/# ).
SOURCES: Nov. 26, 2014, new releases, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, American Lung Association; Len Horovitz, M.D., pulmonary specialist, Lennox Hill Hospital, New York City; Marc Wilkenfeld, M.D., chief, division of occupational and environmental medicine, Winthrop-University Hospital, Mineola, N.Y.; The New York Times
by Robert Preidt

Harm From Baseball Concussions May Linger, Study Finds

Batting skills often worse than normal after players return to sport
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Even after they're cleared to play following a concussion, baseball players' batting skills are worse than normal, which suggests they may not be fully recovered, a new study suggests.
"Although players who sustain a concussion may be symptom-free and cleared by MLB [Major League Baseball] protocol to return to play, the residual effects of concussion on the complex motor skills required for batting may still be a problem," said principal investigator Dr. Jeffrey Bazarian, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Rochester in New York.
Researchers looked at 59 MLB players who suffered a concussion between 2007 and 2013. During their first two weeks back in action, the players' batting performances were much poorer than those of 63 players who had been away from the game due to the birth of a child or death of a family member.
The batting averages of the two groups were .234 vs. .264. Their slugging percentages were .359 vs. .420 and their on-base plus slugging percentages were .654 vs. .747, according to the study presented at the recent annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in New Orleans.
A batter's brain and neural networks have to be in top condition to achieve the hand-eye coordination, reaction time, body stability and balance, and swing control needed to hit a ball that takes about 400 milliseconds to travel from pitcher to batter, Bazarian said in a university news release.
After a concussion, brain function can be impaired for weeks or months. Learning more about how concussions affect batting performance can assist in determining when a concussed player is ready to return to the lineup, the study said.
After strains and bruises, concussions are the most common injuries in professional baseball, accounting for about 2 percent of all injuries that result in loss of playing time. Concussions among high school and college baseball players are rising by about 14 percent a year, the researchers said.
Data and conclusions presented at meetings are usually considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
More information
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about sports concussions (http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/sports/index.html ).
SOURCE: University of Rochester, news release, Nov. 19, 2014
by Robert Preidt

Health Highlights: Nov. 26, 2014

Here are some of the latest health and medical news developments, compiled by the editors of HealthDay:
Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Receives Heart Stent
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had a stent placed in her heart's right coronary artery during surgery Wednesday.
The procedure was conducted at MedStar Washington Hospital Center after Ginsburg experienced discomfort during exercise Tuesday night and doctors discovered a blockage in the coronary artery, NBC News reported.
Ginsburg, 81, was resting comfortably and was expected to leave the hospital within 48 hours, according to the court.
For the past few years, Ginsberg has been exercising with a personal trainer at the Supreme Court gym. It was during one of those sessions that she experienced the discomfort, NBC News reported.
Ginsburg was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 and is the oldest sitting justice.
Double-Arm Transplant Patient Doing Well
An American man who received a double-arm transplant in October can already move his thumb and wrist, and is expected to continue to gain function and sensation in his new arms over the next several years.
At a press conference Tuesday, 40-year-old Will Lautzenheiser expressed his appreciation for the extraordinary gift, NBC News reported.
"I hope to be able to live up to the memory of this man and make this worthwhile," the stand-up comic and former film teacher said. "This person who is anonymous to me will always be as close to me as my own skin now, and it's really an incredible gift."
Lautzenheiser had both arms and legs amputated in 2011 after he developed an aggressive streptococcus A infection that led to sepsis. He was approved for the rare double-arm transplant earlier this year, NBC News reported.
The procedure at Brigham and Women's Hospital took nearly nine hours and involved a team of 35 clinicians, including 13 surgeons.
"You could not wish for a better patient," said Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, director of Plastic Surgery Transplantation, NBC News reported. "He's got the right attitude and he is incredibly diligent in everything he does."
The function of Lautzenheiser's limbs should continue to improve over the next several years as nerves regrow, and he will need to remain on immunosuppression drugs to prevent his body from rejecting his new arms, doctors said.
"There were so many things that I didn't even realize I missed doing and now the capacity for doing those things is within reach, literally within reach," Lautzenheiser told NBC News.
He was one of the first people to be put on a U.S. waiting list for arm transplants in July when changes in classification placed limbs and faces in the same category as organs such as lungs, hearts and kidneys.
"These sorts of transplants are becoming more common, although they are still relatively rare," said Dr. David Klassen, chief medical officer for the United Network for Organ Sharing told NBC News. "The whole community that is involved in this is sort of gradually expanding."
Lautzenheiser said he may consider leg transplants in the future, but is focused on his new arms for the moment.
"I think it will be at least a year or maybe two years before I start thinking about another major surgery that would require two years of rehab. I don't know how much of my 40s I want to spend doing rehab," he joked, NBC News reported.
by Robert Preidt

No Link Between Acetaminophen in Pregnancy, Asthma in Kids: Study

Once childhood respiratory illnesses were factored out, the pain relievers had little impact, researchers say
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 26, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Taking acetaminophen, best known as Tylenol, during pregnancy or giving it to young children does not raise the risk of childhood asthma, a new study finds.
Concerns have been raised that the use of acetaminophen during pregnancy and/or early in a child's life may be associated with the development of asthma.
But the study authors say that respiratory infections during infancy probably play a much more significant role in the later development of asthma, and there's no need to change current recommendations about the use of acetaminophen.
The study was led by Dr. Adrian Lowe at the University of Australia, in Melbourne. His team analyzed data from 11 studies conducted on the potential link between the use of acetaminophen by pregnant women and during the first two years of a child's life -- a critical time in the development of young lungs.
While the studies found a link between acetaminophen and childhood asthma, the association was much weaker after the researchers accounted for respiratory tract infections (colds, flu) during infancy.
The findings suggest that acetaminophen is not an important risk factor for childhood asthma, according to the study, which was published Nov. 25 in the BMJ.
The role that respiratory infections in mothers during pregnancy might play in a child's risk of developing asthma remains unclear, the researchers said.
"The evidence of an association between early-life [acetaminophen] and asthma is often overstated, and there is currently insufficient evidence to support changing guidelines in the use of this medicine," Lowe's team concluded.
More information
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about childhood asthma (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/asthmainchildren.html ).
SOURCE: BMJ, news release, Nov. 25, 2014

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